About Changing Course

For over 25 years, Changing Course has been teaching people how to find their calling and create a life and livelihood they love, outside of the traditional “job box.”

Founded by Dr. Valerie Young, Changing Course recently changed hands, and is now being updated for the present and led into the future by Arthurine Walker and Kate Navarro Fessler, two of Valerie’s earliest students.

More about Arthurine and Kate, in their own words: 

Valerie Young

Sooner or later everyone gets a wake-up call. Mine came in 1993 after my mother Barbara died unexpectedly of a heart attack. My mother was just 61 and five months short of her much-awaited retirement.

Soon after I said goodbye to my 90-mile-a-day commute to my corporate job to become the Founder and Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com.

Like all transitions, success took time and effort. But the hard work paid off because today I get paid to help people just like you to connect the dots between what you love to do and how you can make a living doing it… without a job-job.

I’m also considered a leading expert on something called impostor syndrome. That nagging sense that you are in over your head and they’re going to find out. Been there? I know I have!

Today I’m a well-paid speaker for such organizations as Boeing, Apple, IBM, Procter and Gamble, Facebook, Merck, McDonald’s (Europe), Chrysler, Microsoft, and over 85 colleges and universities in the US, Canada, and Japan.

I was honored to receive a six-figure book deal from Random House for The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.

Writing that book was, hands down, the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I don’t need a fancy degree to do any of the work I’ve done.

But early on I did earn my doctoral degree from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in social justice education. At, by the way, the same university where my Mom was working as a second shift custodian when she died.

Arthurine Walker

I have three distinct memories about choosing a career. The first came at age six when my Aunt Carmen asked, “What do you plan to do after college?” My response was “I want to do something that helps people.” My six year old mind had limited knowledge of helping careers, so I suggested that I might become a doctor, lawyer, or teacher.

Fast forward 10 years, at age 16 as I was preparing to go to college, my mother told me “When you go to college, get a career not just a degree.” My mother had friends whose children had college degrees but could not find a job. Only much later did I think that my mother never suggested that I study something that I enjoyed or was passionate about that might lead to work that I would love doing.

The idea of loving my profession came during my senior year of college. I was a marketing major and we had to select a project around which we would create a promotional campaign. I wanted to create a campaign to encourage people to register as organ donors, but I was outvoted by my team and my professor. Instead, we worked on a project to launch a new luxury car. That was a pivotal experience for me. I made a promise to myself then that I would never again work at something that I didn’t care about deeply and that six year old girl inside me still cared deeply about doing something that would help people. For the past 30 years, I’ve kept that promise to my adult self and the six year old me.

It is one of the many reasons why, when Valerie decided to retire from Changing Course, that I expressed interest in stepping into the leadership. I believe that everyone should do work that they love and I’d like to help as many people as possible to achieve that. My friends call me a risk-taker because I’ve been willing to move to different states, try out new things, and basically live life on my own terms. For me, Changing Course is about doing work that you love and living life on your own terms.

I first learned about Changing Course in the late 1990’s from Barbara Winter’s newsletter. I had taken Barbara’s class and purchased her book, Making a Living Without a Job. The very idea of making a living without a job and having multiple streams of income intrigued me, though I wasn’t quite sure what I would do with it yet.

While I have worked in education, the nonprofit sector, government, and the private sector, all of my work has been about growing and sustaining nonprofit organizations, developing their leaders, promoting education, work skills development, and national service or working directly with education, youth development or teacher education programs. It has all been work that I’ve loved and work that helped people. And although I have been an employee, since 1999, I’ve also been an entrepreneur.

While working for the government agency that administers the AmeriCorps national service program, a nonprofit colleague, who had seen me facilitate a series of discussions about literacy, introduced me to a program manager at a Charter School association. They were looking for a consultant to facilitate strategic planning discussions with the teachers and administrators at Charter Schools in Washington, DC. This was exciting to me—I loved strategic planning, education, and facilitating. And it became my very first venture into entrepreneurship.

Since that time, I have consistently been engaged in some form of entrepreneurship. I’ve done work around helping people with college and career pursuits. I’ve focused on helping people to figure out how to use existing knowledge and skills in new ways that may be more aligned with their personal interests. And, after completing the Profiting from Your Passions coach training program (then called Outside the Job Box Certification Program) in 2007, I began helping people to figure out how to create their own jobs, doing something they would love, and creating the life they want to live. It continues to surprise me how many people don’t believe that work should be something that you love.

As I developed my knowledge of the nonprofit sector, I also began doing training and coaching with nonprofit leaders. I believe the business development work that I’ve done with these leaders can be transferred to helping those who want to Change Course to develop sound and sustainable business practices.

For a time, I worked under the business name, What is Your Marathon? If you have ever seen a marathon live, especially after the 20-mile mark, then you know how amazing it is to witness the power of human endurance. Building a business or changing course in any area of your life is rarely a sprint. Like a marathon, it takes time and effort. Each year, around the globe, thousands of people—young and old and people with differing abilities—complete the 26.2 mile course. A marathon demonstrates that you can do anything with the right preparation. Changing course is hard, but I would like to help you to go the distance.

Partnering with Kate to lead Changing Course into the future may be my “dream job” and just what the six year old me was looking for even though I didn’t know it at the time.

Live the Life of Your Dreams,
Arthurine Walker
Chief Changemaker

Kate Fessler

Hi, I’m Kate Fessler (aka Kate Navarro Fessler). I became a Changing Course Outside the Job Box Career Expert (later known as Profiting from Your Passions coach) with the class of 2007. Up until that time, I had worked in corporate jobs. I had been working at least one job since I was 16 years old, and I had made a decent career for myself. But I always felt like something was missing. I also felt like I wasn’t appreciated or given the opportunities I thought I deserved. 

My career journey is long and convoluted, but I will give credit to my last significant employer, a large internet company that was in its toddlerhood when I worked there.

I was exposed to a lot of innovative thinking, and because there were not very many people in my group, I was able to expand my capabilities into numerous areas.


The prevailing attitude was “if you think you can do it, and you want to do it, go for it!” I loved this energy and really loved my job … until … they started to grow and put “structure” in place. In my case, that meant no more of the “can do” attitude, and more of the “we’ll hire someone with a higher salary to do that.” My “job box” began to narrow, and I no longer felt that sense of contribution, of everyone working toward the same goal, the camaraderie of making things happen that seem impossible to anyone on the outside looking in.

I wanted to make a difference. I wanted the freedom to make my own schedule, not be bound by the two or three weeks of vacation they allowed. I wanted to be paid well and have the right resources for the work I did, not be continually told to “do more with less.”

That’s where I was when the Changing Course training came along. When the student is ready, the teacher appears??

In some ways I feel like I’ve been preparing for stewarding Changing Course to its next chapter for a long time. Since 2008, when I left my corporate job, I’ve immersed myself in learning more about different worlds and opportunities that I never even knew existed through numerous coaching and educational programs involving everything from mindset to marketing.

I was raised to be a rule follower – eight years of Catholic school! Then it slowly dawned on me that the game was rigged. The “rules” were set by someone who did not necessarily have my best interests at heart. Career and/or job “rules” were not created to bring out the best in people, to help them grow and attain their highest potential. From job descriptions to performance reviews to pay grades, they were designed to reward those who made the rules and have everyone else working to support the dream of the rulemaker.

Then I stumbled on a quote from Katherine Hepburn, which became one of my favorites: “If you follow the rules, you miss all the fun.”

My first brand as an OTJB/PYFP coach was “Play Your Own Game.” If others could make the rules, why couldn’t we? Instead of trying to change the rules, why not opt out of the game altogether?

I even designed a t-shirt for one of my clients with the slogan, which has become my mantra, “My Life, My Rules.”

My Big Why has been to learn how to make my own rules; to create the life that I want, regardless of what everybody thinks I should want. I want the freedom to do work I love, work with people I love and for whom I can make a difference, and to create prosperity and abundance for myself and my family. To own my time and my livelihood, and to contribute in the same spirit of “if you think you can do it, and you want to do it, go for it!”

And I want that for you too!

One of the most important things I learned is that navigating the transition from corporate employee to entrepreneur was like moving to a foreign country – I didn’t know the language or the customs, and it was a strange and wonderful journey, with a lot of zigs and zags along the way! How you think is a big part of it, and I’m looking forward to introducing some mindset discussions to help you really become the “ruler” of your own life.

I am a big believer in multiple streams of income. In addition to Changing Course, I do consulting work for a large local technology company. I love the work I do, and I love the people I work with. I control my time, and I work from home or wherever I happen to be in the world. At first it felt like selling out my dream, because of some questionable coaching I had received about “burning the boats” so there’s no going back. But I realized I did like the work, and I wanted to keep a toe in this water. And, quite frankly, it pays well! So once again, I decided to make my own rules. I can do both! I’ve helped numerous clients over the years create that sort of structure in their own businesses, when it’s appropriate, so they don’t have to give up work they love; they can just change the rules to suit their vision of what they want their life to look like.

I am committed to continuing and expanding the mission by bringing this freedom, flexibility, love for what you do, resilience, and the ability to create one or more streams of income that empowers you to live your ideal life to the Changing Course community.  I even wrote a children’s book, called Stormy and the Rainbow, about finding your way in the world so parents can begin planting the seed in a new generation at an early age that they can create a life and livelihood they love!

Especially during these times, when everything seems to be in doubt and the old rules are being questioned in so many ways, I hope you’ll support us in doing our small part to help usher in a new way of life that brings more joy and prosperity to all. I’m optimistic about what the future will bring, and excited about being the co-pilot on the next phase of the amazing Changing Course journey!

Your Life, Your Rules!
 Kate Navarro Fessler
Chief Empowerment Officer